The AGRIFISH Council has adopted 2022 fishing opportunities for the North-East Atlantic following night long negotiations
Today, the Council agreed on fishing opportunities for 2022 for the fish stocks exclusively managed by the EU in the Atlantic, Kattegat and Skagerrak and for stocks shared with Norway bilaterally and with Norway and the United Kingdom trilaterally, following the agreement reached last Friday.
On the stocks managed by the EU only, Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said:
“Today’s decisions are very good news for all the stocks that we are managing sustainably, guaranteeing that they remain at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels. I am very pleased that Member States have followed the Commission’s proposal. We have agreed 10 TACs in line with the levels advised by the scientists to guarantee MSY yields.”
As proposed by the Commission, the Council has set 10 TACs in line with MSY advice, including 2 stocks in the lower range of MSY for plaice and for Norway lobster in Skagerrak and Kattegat. For cod in Kattegat, the Council has agreed on a package of measures with a limit of 97 tonnes for unavoidable catches taken in other fisheries and an allowance given to fishermen and women who are taking part in remote electronic monitoring projects to bring fisheries control into the 21st century.
In the Bay of Biscay, the Council has agreed to the reopening of the Norway lobster fishery in Functional Unit 31 to 14 tonnes and to a cut of -36% for sole. In the Iberian waters, the megrim TAC will be raised by 13%, the anglerfish TAC by 5% and the horse mackerel TAC by 12%. These increases show that conservation efforts pay off.
On the stocks shared between the EU, Norway and the United Kingdom, 15 out of 18 TACs have been set in line with MSY.
Since the negotiations regarding stocks shared bilaterally with the UK are still ongoing, the Council has adopted temporary contingency TACs for those stocks for the first 3 months of 2022. This contingency plan ensures that fishing can continue seamlessly into the new year, if an agreement with the UK is not reached before the end of December. The contingency TACs are generally set at 25% of the 2021 TACs. Exceptions include stocks fished disproportionately at the beginning of the year.
Jože Podgoršek, Slovenian Minister for Agriculture said, “Today’s agreement is the result of hard work and good will on all sides. It will allow us to maintain fish stocks at sustainable levels while also protecting the livelihoods of European fishing fleets.”
Atlantic and North Sea
The following changes have been made to total allowable catches (TACs) that the EU manages autonomously:
- the TAC for sole has been reduced by 36% in the northern and central Bay of Biscay sea areas, and rolled over in the West of Ireland and Porcupine Bank
- the TACs for pollock in the Bay of Biscay and Portuguese waters have also been rolled over
- the TAC for southern hake has been reduced by 8%
- the ban on targeted cod fishing has been maintained, with the TAC for cod bycatches in Kattegat being reduced by 21% (special provisions apply to vessels participating in trials on remote electronic monitoring)
- the TAC for Norway lobster in functional unit 31 has increased by 2000%
Other key features of the proposal include:
- a rollover of measures for European eel, with a three-month closure, enabling consultations with member states and stakeholders to take place on the best way to manage this stock in response to worrying scientific advice
- measures aimed at protecting the declining cod stock in the Celtic Sea while also enabling EU vessels to continue fishing for species whose numbers are on the rise, such as whiting